Lies that Tell the Truth

Magic Realism in Contemporary Art

FEB 22 > MAR 22, 2013

The perfect lie is the world. We are always trying to unravel the big lie, and all the knots inside it, but tie a few ourselves along the way.
— Kahn & Selesnick

Lies That Tell the Truth focuses on contemporary “representational” art that challenges our perceptions of reality. German art critic Franz Roh introduced the term magic realism in 1925 as the concept of the “mystery [that] does not descend to the represented world but rather hides and palpitates behind it.”

Although magic realism has its origins in visual arts, it is today more commonly used and accepted in literature. Many elements of magic realist literature are useful in understanding 21st Century artistic tendencies, such as transgression of boundaries, historical revision (or ironic reworking of the past), political/social activism, and cross-culturalism.

The images below represent a small cross section of the works that will be shown in the Lies that Tell the Truth exhibition. Click on any thumbnail below to view details and a larger-sized image.

Kate Breakey


Susan Hauptman

Kahn & Selesnick


Peter Milton


Shana Moulton

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison


Xiaoze Xie


Kate Breakey

Kate Breakey is internationally known for her large-scale, richly hand-colored photographs including her series of luminous portraits of birds, flowers, and animals. Breakey’s photography has been published in the books Las Sombras/The Shadows, Painted Light, Small Deaths, Slow Light, and Flowers/Birds. They have also appeared in more than eighty one-person exhibitions and more than fifty group exhibitions in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, China, New Zealand, and France. Her work is held in many public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

A native of South Australia, Breakey moved to Austin, Texas in 1988. She completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Texas in 1991, where she also taught photography in the Department of Art and Art History until 1997. In 1999 she moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Susan Hauptman

Susan Hauptman has worked, throughout her career, only on paper and only in charcoal and pastel. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan and her Master of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. She was the Lamar Dodd Professorial Chair at the University of Georgia from 1997 through 2000. Hauptman has been a visiting artist at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; the University of California at Santa Barbara; the San Francisco Art Institute, CA; and Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Hauptman’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; and the Norton Gallery of Art, Palm Beach, FL. She lives and works in New York City

Kahn & Selesnick

Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick have been collaborating as Kahn & Selesnick since 1988 on a series of complex narrative photo-novellas and sculptural installations. They were both born in 1964, in New York City and London respectively. They met at Washington University in St. Louis where they collaborated informally from 1982 to 1986 as photography majors. After graduation and a couple of years of showing their art separately they migrated to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to work on an evolving series of projects, some painting based, some photography based, all involving fictional attributions, narratives, and sculpture. Experimenting on Selworthy Beacon in Somerset, England they found that shooting a 360 degree panorama could more faithfully create a truer, more cinematic sense of the place, while their manipulation of costume, props, and period color would help them alter the sense of time. They began digitally manipulating their photographs in 2000 and creating videos in 2002.

Their elaborate multi-medium series sometimes take more than four years to fully realize. Among recent series are Scotlandfuturebog, City of Salt, Apollo Prophecies, Eisbergfreistadt, Hour Glass Sea, and Truppe Fledermaus. They team up with family, friends, and students to create many of the complex panoramic photographs. The short parables that accompany the projects are a collaboration between Kahn & Selesnick and writers Sarah Falkner and Erez Lieberman. Aperture published limited edition art books for Scotlandfuturebog, City of Salt, and Apollo Prophecies. Scotlandfuturebog, which was designed to resemble the artists’ hand bound journal, won the 2002 New York Book Show’s Best Photography Book.

Kahn & Selesnick held artist residencies at Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts; the Djerrasi Artist Program, Woodside, California; and Toni Morrison’s Atelier Program at Princeton University, New Jersey. Their work has been shown in more than eighty solo exhibitions throughout the United States and Belgium and in group exhibitions in China, France, Germany, Monaco, and Norway. Among the exhibiting museums are: Brooklyn Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography and Field Museum, Overbeck-Gesellschaft (Lübeck, Germany), and Cape Cod Museum of Art. Their work can be found in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Boston Public Library, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fogg Museum of Art, National Portrait Gallery, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Peter Milton


Virginia Military Institute, 1948—1950
Yale University, BFA 1954, MFA 1961
Teaching University of Bridgeport (Art History), 1959
Yale University (Teaching Assistant), 1960
Maryland Institute, 1961—1968
Yale Summer School of Music and Art at Norfolk, 1970
Artist-in-Residence University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 1982
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 1983
Pasadena City College, CA, 1999
Weber State University, Ogden, UT, 2004

Visiting Artist

Dartmouth College, 1971
Yale University 1972, 1979, lecture series on contemporary printmaking, 1988
Columbia University, 1980
Middlebury College, 1981
Melbourne and Sydney, Australia: lectures under a grant from the Australia Council to the Arts, 1982
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1984
University of Florida, Gainesville, 1985
State University of New York at Purchase, 1985
Rhode Island School of Design, 1985
Two River Printmaking Studio, 2001
Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, 2004
Winthrop University, Black Rock, SC, 2004


Yale-Norfolk Residency, 1953
Yale Traveling Fellowship, 1954
Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, 1963
1st prize, Festival de Artes Graficas, Cali, Colombia, 1969
Grand Prize, 2nd Festival of Art, Seoul, Korea, 1972
Residency, Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy, 1990
Medal of Honor, Interprint '90, Lvov, Ukraine, 1990
Awards Exequo of the Triennial, International Triennial of Graphic Arts, Cracow, Poland, 1991
Triennial Special Prize, International Print Triennial, Cracow, Poland, 1997
Honorable Gold Diploma, 9th International Print Biennial, Varna Bulgaria, 1997
Commendatory Award, 3rd International Miniprint Triennial, Lahti Finland, 1998
Gold Medal, International Print Triennial, Friedrikstad, Norway, 1999
The Honorable Mention, International Print Triennial, Cracow, Poland, 2003
Special Jury Award, 13th International Print Biennial, Varna, Bulgaria, 2005

Selected Public Collections

Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France
British Museum, London, England
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia
Museo de Arte Moderno "La Tertulia", Cali, Colombia
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Collection of Fine Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of American Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Tate Gallery, London, England
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Shana Moulton

Shana Moulton (b. 1976, Oakhurst, California) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley (1999), a Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University (2004), and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2004) and De Ateliers, Amsterdam (2006). She has been an artist in resident at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2011) and Harvestworks, New York (2008), and has received grants and fellowships from Harvestworks (2010), The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2009), and the Experimental Television Center (2009).

Moulton’s work has been included in the exhibitions The Castle of Secrets, Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam (2010); Puzzle Saga, Gimpel Fils, London (2010); Whispering Pines 6, 7, 8, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2010); Acting Out, Bronx River Art Center, New York (2010); DO / REDO / UNDO – 50 YEARS OF VIDEO PERFORMANCE, Wiels Center for Contemporary Art, Brussels (2010); Greater New York Cinema, MoMA/PS1, Long Island City (2010); Video Dada, UC Irvine University Art Gallery (2010); Deterioration, they said, Migros Museum Für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2009); Erratic Anthropologies, Art in General, New York (2009); Subjective Projections, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefeld, Germany (2009); Repetitive Stress Injuries, Pianissimo, Milan (2008); Whispering Pines, Contemporary Museum of Art, Uppsala, Sweden (2008); Second Thoughts, Hessel Museum, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson (2008); and Float, Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City (2007). She has performed at the New Museum, New York (2011); The Kitchen, New York (2010); Exit Art, New York (2010); Performa 09, New York (2009); Participant, Inc., New York (2008); Portland Documentary and eXperimental Film Festival (2008); Diverseworks, Houston (2008); Electronic Arts Intermix, New York (2007); Glasslands, Brooklyn (2007); and De Appel, Amsterdam (2006).

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison

Much has been written about Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, the husband and wife team whose photographic tableaux took the art world by storm more than ten years ago. Creating a genre unique within the photo world, the ParkeHarrisons construct fantasies in the guise of environmental performances for their Everyman – a man dressed in a black suit and starched white shirt – who interacts with the Earth’s landscape. In the 2000 series The Architect’s Brother, the artists combined elaborate sets (which took months to construct) and an impeccable sense of wit and irony, to address issues about the Earth and humankind’s responsibility to heal the damage we have done to its landscape.

Robert ParkeHarrison said of The Architect’s Brother photographs:

I want to make images that have open, narrative qualities, enough to suggest ideas about human limits. I want there to be a combination of the past juxtaposed with the modern. I use nature to symbolize the search, saving a tree, watering the earth. In this fabricated world, strange clouds of smog float by; there are holes in the sky. These mythic images mirror our world, where nature is domesticated, controlled, and destroyed.

Everyman appears in the ParkeHarrisons’ recent series of color photographs, Gray Dawn and Counterpoint. Although choreographed, the photographs do not include elaborate props and Everyman is marginalized.

The ParkeHarrisons received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1999, and artist grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2001 and 1996, Peter Reed Foundation in 2003, and Nancy Graves Foundation in 2007, among other awards. Their monographs, The Architect’s Brother (2000) and Counterpoint (2008) were published by Twin Palms Publishers / Twelvetrees Press. Their works are included in numerous collections, among them: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Xiaoze Xie

Xiaoze Xie received Master of Fine Arts degrees from the Central Academy of Arts & Design in Beijing and the University of North Texas. He has had solo exhibitions at the Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; Dallas Visual Art Center, Texas; Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, Texas; Modern Chinese Art Foundation, Gent, Belgium; Charles Cowles Gallery, New York City; Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco; Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto; China Art Archives and Warehouse, Beijing; and Gaain Gallery, Seoul, among others. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese Art at the China Institute Gallery in New York and Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the traveling exhibition Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art from China and the US.

Xie’s 2004 solo exhibition at the Charles Cowles Gallery was reviewed in The New York Times, Art in America, and Art Asia Pacific. More recent shows have been reviewed in the Chicago Tribune, The Globe and Mail (Canada), and San Francisco Chronicle. His work is in the permanent collection of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, San Jose Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Xie received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2003) and artist awards from Phoenix Art Museum (1999) and Dallas Museum of Art (1996). He is the Paul L. & Phyllis Wattis Professor of Art at Stanford University.

Opening Reception and Lecture: February 21, 5:30 pm – "History, Memory, and Time" by Xiaoze Xie, Paul L. and Phyllis Wattis Professor of Art, Stanford University

Additional Lectures:

February 26, 5:30 pm - "Bats in Trouble: The Truth About Indiana's Bats" by Dr. Joy O'Keefe, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, ISU. A reception follows.

March 5, 5:30 pm – "Henry James and Magic Realism" by Dr. Susan M. Griffin, editor of The Henry James Review and Professor and Chair of the English Department at the University of Louisville. A reception follows.

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